Chinese Beidou satellites begin autonomous operation in spaceStaff writer ▼ | August 17, 2015
After more than 10 days in space, China's 19th Beidou navigation satellite is working autonomously and has set up a link with another satellite.
Chinese GPS Beidou is one of four main navigation systems
China plans to set up a complete constellation of 35 satellites, achieving global coverage by 2020. The "twin sats" surpass their predecessors in speed, accuracy and weight.
Autonomous navigation is the project's key to global operation. It enables satellites to work independently, providing users with more accurate data.
Using the Chinese word for the plough, or the Big Dipper, constellation, the project was formally launched in 1994, some 20 years after the inception of GPS. The first Beidou satellite was launched in 2000.
By 2012, a regional network had taken shape and was providing positioning, navigation, timing and short message services in China and other Asian countries.
Beidou is one of the world's four main navigation systems, along with GPS there is Russia's GLONASS, and the European Union's Galileo. All four use autonomous navigation technology. ■